Will Facebook become a force in e-commerce, too?

USA-RETAIL/BLACKFRIDAYThe social graph that Facebook is slowly building has been extending its tentacles into different areas of the web – not just micro-publishing the thoughts of a user’s circle of friends, but also online videos, photos and email. One huge area that Facebook has been quiet in so far is e-commerce. But this holiday season, there are early signs that that is beginning to change.

Coremetrics, a web analytics company owned by IBM, recently looked at new trends in the annual shopping spree stretching from Black Friday to Cyber Monday. Among them, it found a nascent trend it called social shopping:

The growing trend of consumers using their networks on social sites for information about deals and inventory levels continued on Cyber Monday. While the percentage of visitors arriving from social network sites is fairly small relative to all online visitors—nearly 1 percent—it is gaining momentum, with Facebook dominating the space.

Intriguing as that may be, it’s hardly strong proof that Facebook will become a force to be reckoned with in e-commerce. But other signals suggest that, given enough time, that could in fact happen. The blog AllFacebook received an email from Facebook with data suggesting that the company is well aware of the potential.

In the email, Facebook reported that half of the top 25 online retail sites, including Amazon and eBay, have integrated their stores with Facebook. Those retailers were active enough in their Black Friday updates to deliver a sixfold increase in status updates from the previous Friday. During Thanksgiving weekend, referral traffic from Facebook to top retailers increased 70 percent.

Why Web Giants would benefit from a ‘do not track’ policy

The Federal Trade Commission has issued a report recommending that browsers include a “Do Not Track” mechanism that would allow people to surf the web without sites collecting and sharing data about their activities. In the same way that the “Do Not Call” list hampered that ability of some (but alas, not all) telemarketers to interrupt our dinners with unwanted calls, the idea sounds like bad news for web sites that target ads based on such data.

But in the end, such a move could be just what web giants like Google and Facebook need to get their users to opt in to sharing data, rather than opting out.

Opting out of telemarketing calls is a fairly black and white decision. You either hate them or you don’t mind them. But online privacy is a much murkier affair. On the one hand, behavioral data can help sites serve ads or deliver sponsored-search results that are – theoretically, at least – of interest. Increasingly, they are being used to improve the web experiences as well, whether it’s Netflix using your viewing history to recommend new movies, or apps like Foursquare using geolocation.

Gowalla shoots for 1 million users with new version of location service

Location service Gowalla launched within days of rival Foursquare in March 2009, only to see its competitor grow to more than 4 million users while Gowalla seemedGowalla 3 Activity Feed left in the dust. This summer’s introduction of Facebook’s location service, dubbed Places, didn’t help the perception that Gowalla was on a challenging road.

But Gowalla, which says it has “north of 600,000” users, has not given up. The Austin, Texas company released a revamped version of the service on Thursday that co-founder Josh Williams says will help bring its number of users to the million-mark by year’s end.

So what’s new in Gowalla 3? For one thing, you can now view check-ins by friends who use other location services, including Foursquare and Facebook Places, directly within Gowalla, as well as check-in to those services from Gowalla. That could provide a common window to keep track of the whereabouts of friends currently kept apart on separate location services.

GlobalMedia-Gaming giants differ on mobile, social games

kotickMuch of the buzz in gaming these days revolves around two small but fast-growing areas: social games and mobile ones played on smartphones. But two titans of the video game industry have decidedly different takes on those markets.

There are already tens of thousands of game apps available for the iPhone and competing Android smartphones, and tens of millions of people playing free games on Facebook.

Still, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick (pictured) sounded less than enthusiastic about those markets when he spoke to the Reuters Global Media Summit in New York on Tuesday. And that represented a stark contrast from what Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello said just a day earlier

Facebook’s uphill battle against rogue apps

OMG! I can’t believe the see-who’s-viewing-your-Facebook-profile scam is back again! And that so many people are falling for it!

A Facebook app called ProfileSpy is purporting to offer Facebook members one of the most demanded services Facebook won’t allow: data on who is looking at your profile. Facebook knows, of course, since it collects that data. If you had a web site or a blog, you could track it easily for free. But Facebook won’t share it.

Neither will ProfileSpy, and other rogue apps like it. Instead, according to security software company Sophos, which alerted Facebook and others to the scam, the app will request permission to access private data, such as your picture, demographic data, lists of friends and any data you’ve shared with everyone. It will also ask that you let the app send you emails, post to your wall and log in as one of your pages. Then it will post an update to your friends that reads: “OMG OMG OMG… I cant believe this actually works! Now you really can see who viewed your profile!”

Berners-Lee: Apple, Facebook are enemies of the web

2010 is a great time for the web. Innovation is thriving as new services and content flourish on smartphones and laptops, thanks in good part to industry leaders like Apple and Facebook.

But according to Tim Berners-Lee, – often called “ the father of the web” – the open and democratic structure of the web is threatened by sinister forces trying to redesign the web in ways that make it more closed for their own personal gain. These enemies of the web don’t just include totalitarian governments. They include industry leaders like Apple and Facebook.

As the web turns 20, Berners-Lee has written a 3,800-word article for Scientific American celebrating its achievements and documenting threats to its future. Most of his words are dedicated to the threats.

Should you trust Facebook with your email?

INTERNET-SOCIALMEDIA/PRIVACY- Michael Fertik is the CEO and Founder of ReputationDefender, the online privacy and reputation company. The views expressed are his own. -

Facebook already knows a massive amount about you.  They know your age, what you look like, what you like, what you do for fun, where you go, what you eat, whom you know, whom you know well, whom you sleep with, who your best friends and family are, and, again, how old they are, what they like, and so on.

On top of that, Facebook has a well-known history of privacy breaches or at least snafus.  Publicly they seem committed to the notion that privacy is dead.  Their CEO and Founder has said as much.

Why is Facebook worth ten Twitters?

Twitter is reportedly in talks with private investors for another round of investment, one that would value the company at $3 billion. My first thought was: Only $3 billion? In this time of irrational web 2.0 valuations?

After all, Facebook’s reported value is $41 billion, according to Bloomberg. As fast as even Facebook is growing, that figure—up from $30 billion a few weeks ago—is hard to justify, given that the company’s revenue will be between $1.5 billion and $2 billion this year. But even so, at Facebook’s $30 billion valuation, it’s ten times bigger than Twitter. So why would Facebook be worth ten Twitters?

For one thing, Facebook has worked out a solid business model, targeting ads to its members in an effective way. Twitter is at an earlier stage in the process of developing a business plan. It recently hired a new CEO, Dick Costolo, to ramp things up. Since then, it’s announced a few initiatives aimed at exploring new revenue streams.

LinkedIn’s secret anti-Facebook weapon: Keg Stands

BeerKeg LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner has two words that reassure him that his professional social network is not threatened by Facebook: Keg stands.

Weiner took a moment to explain the ever-popular college tradition of imbibing beer directly from the tap of a keg while being suspended upside-down by drinking mates during his talk at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

“While many of us in college probably were at parties having a good time, doing things like keg stands, or being exposed to keg stands, I don’t know that many of us would look forward to having a prospective employer have access to picture of those events,” Weiner said.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg on relationships with big companies

Facebook has had its differences with Google and Apple in recent months. FACEBOOK/

And Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried his best not to comment directly on the budding rivalry with the two tech titans during his appearance at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

But Zuckerberg did offer some clues about Facebook’s philosophy towards working with big companies that might offer some insight into its relationships with Apple and Google.

“If you’re a very large company and supporting you is going to cost us tens of millions of dollars, then we want to at least have an understanding of how you’re going to use what we’re doing, and that you’re not just going to import the data but also try and contribute back to the ecosystem and make people’s Facebook experience better.”